PIA chief under probe over corruption allegations – Andanar
MANILA, Philippines — The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) is investigating the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) director general over allegations of corruption.
“Given the gravity of the corruption allegations and guided by the ‘whiff of corruption principle’ of the Duterte administration, our legal office is one with the President to stomp out corruption from the bureaucracy as long as there is proof,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a text message to INQUIRER.net.
PIA is under PCOO.
In a letter to PIA chief Harold Clavite, the PCOO’s legal department asked the PIA head to explain the following: alleged splitting of contract for the purchase of “Asean Komiks,” misuse of funds for hotel accommodations, irregularities in production of information materials for the Employees’ Compensation Program, and irregularities in the airing of a government promotional material called “Like Pinas.”
Splitting of contracts is a strategy to skirt rules on auditing and biddings.
Marvin Gatpayat, PCOO undersecretary for legal affairs, also confirmed the investigation in a phone interview with INQUIRER.net.
Gatpayat said the PCOO had received letters from anonymous senders with attached documents against Clavite in May. The letters accused Clavite of corruption.
“We decided to issue a letter asking the PIA head to answer the allegations, to clear himself. We sent him a letter for him to explain,” Gatpayat said.
Before sending a letter to Clavite, Gatpayat said his office studied first the documents attached to the letters.
“We do not want that as soon as we received it, we ask him to answer immediately. So we did also our duty. We studied if there is a possibility [of corruption]. So we studied it first,” he said.
According to Gatpayat, “the attached documents are enough” to “probably establish probable cause.”
He said he wrote to Gatpayat to give the PIA head a chance to air his side and for investigators to “evaluate” the complaints “better.”
“It’s also for us to know the truth so let’s ask the PIA head,” Gatpayat said.
Clavite was given until June 13 to comply.
Clavite, according to Gatpayat, hasn’t given a response to the letter but “with or without his comments, we will proceed with the investigation.”
Should Clavite fail to beat the deadline to give his reply, Gatpayat said “we will make a report and give it to the secretary (Andanar).”
Clavite, for his part, said he would answer allegations hurled against him “in the proper forum when the time comes.”
“If a complaint was indeed sent to the Ombudsman, then the PCOO does not have jurisdiction over those complaints,” he noted.
Clavite said he would wait for an “official communication” from the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the matter. He revealed that a check with the Ombudsman last May 21 showed there was no pending case filed against him.
“The allegations are baseless and unsubstantiated. This is part of a demolition job being done against me because of the financial and organizational reforms that I have instituted in the Agency since I took office in 2016,” he asserted.
“I have sought the intervention of COA (Commission on Audit) and the Office of the Executive Secretary through PCOO on these matters in April and May 2019 and some disgruntled people are trying to reverse them by publicly painting a negative picture of me and maligning my person and authority.”
“All these emanated from an internal fact-finding inquiry that I created in September 2018 and apparently, some people were hurt when I started checking and found out there have been several irregularities in financial processes,” he further said. (Editor: Tony Bergonia/kga)
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